Steady Pushing to Improve

Jordan Ash isn't being standoffish when he hesitates after being asked by a member of the media when he can best be reached by phone.

No, it's not that the 6-1, 170-pound sophomore guard doesn't like interviews. It's just that he's usually busy.

"If I'm not in the gym I'll be able to talk," he said.

A native of Westchester, Ill., Ash began pushing himself to improve his game last spring. He played up an age group with his AAU team, the Illinois Wolves, a necessary and bold move that had drastic positives.

"My athleticism, it got me by in the past," he said. "This summer playing with older players made it obvious that I need more than athleticism."

Before this spring Ash was customarily the best player on the court at all times. That was not the case this year. The challenge of playing with older and better competitors led to a realization – the need to refine his game.

"They weren't just as athletic – some were more athletic," he said. "It pushed me to work on every part of my game. I think once I did that I was fine, and I started really getting better."

Still with three years to play in high school, Ash already has offers from DePaul, Northwestern and Purdue.

He's taken numerous visits, including one to Illinois in July, and his immediate travel plans include heading to Purdue this weekend and Michigan Sept. 15. The offers, trips and attention are all nice perks, but the hype is not something that consumes his mindset.

"I just know who recruits me and that's good enough right now," he said. "It's really nothing like I really want an offer from a certain school right now because I have a long time. It's not like I have a dire need to have an offer. I'm just there to do what I can do to win games."

And to do so, he plans on staying in the gym. If this summer was about improving the mental side of his game, the understanding that he couldn't get by on sheer ability alone, the coming months are more about enhancing the physical aspects. He's working most on his using his right hand and playing better defense.

"Everything can always be improved as much as possible," he said.

With his ever-evolving game, so too has Ash's position on the court.

"That's the funny part," he said. "Last year I was listed as a point guard. This year I was listed as a shooting guard or combo guard. As I started reading and learning the game, I started learning about the lead guard position more. That's better suited to me because of the leadership involved, getting others involved."

For now, thinking about where he'll play in college can wait. That's the outlook Ash is taking, with his goals firmly focused on winning a state title with his St. Joseph High teammates.

And remember, if you're looking for him, particularly in the afternoons when school is out, he's probably in the gym.

"I'm just going to keep improving like I have," he said.

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